Citing high national debt, Dr M says can’t raise pay for civil servants just yet

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gives a press conference at Menara Yayasan Selangor in Petaling Jaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

PETALING JAYA, Aug 11 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government cannot raise the salaries of civil servants at present due to the high national debt.

Answering questions from the media on increasing the minimum wage, Dr Mahathir said it would be done gradually as it also requires increasing the salaries of those earning above the minimum pay.

Following a discussion with Cabinet members, the PH chairman said the government had already committed in principle to raising the minimum wage.

“We cannot rapidly increase the minimum wage as this will affect the government. The government of the day is not having an easy time raising funds we need to service the debt.

“This cannot be done immediately because of our finances we are the biggest employer of 1.6 million people,” he told a late-night conference following a meet with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) leaders at the party’s office here.

The PPBM chairman said aside from the gradual increase in income, there also needs to be an increase in productivity.

“We have to make sure productivity follows the increase in salary as we do not want to have a high cost of living,” he said.

PH had in its election manifesto pledged to standardise the minimum wage of RM1,500 across the nation as one of its 10 promises to be fulfilled in 100 days.

The current minimum wage in Peninsular Malaysia is RM1,000, while in East Malaysia, it is set at RM920.